Some Beatles Sites in Hamburg, Germany
During a business trip in 1994, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit several Beatles-related locations in Hamburg. As you probably know, various members of the Beatles performed at several clubs around Hamburg's Reeperbahn before the Beatles attained world-wide recognition. During this time, Pete Best was on the drums and the band included Stu Suttcliff. The Beatles, or Silver Beetles, etc., made their first recordings as a group in Hamburg, at Hamburg-Harburg 1961, June 22-23, the most famous of which were with Tony Sheridan. Stu also fell in love with Astrid and stayed on as an art student, before meeting his untimely end.
The list that follows is not a complete list of all Beatles-related places in Hamburg. I got the information from the Beatles Encyclopedia. Where possible I have included the street addresses, and if I have been there, some information on how to find these sites. Unfortunately, I did not find street addresses for some of the sites, making this information less valuable. I take no responsibility for incorrect information, disclaimer, disclaimer etc. I would appreciate any updates that people can send me, although I doubt I will ever return to Hamburg.
The Reeperbahn. Those not familiar with this street of strip clubs, peep shows and sex theaters will be in for quite a shock. The area is pretty rough, even to a native New Yorker, with an interesting street crowd. Supposedly it is safe at night, but we went early in the day to avoid the riff-raff. If leaving from the Central Train Station (Hauptbahnhof) take the U3 line towards Barmbek. Get off at St. Pauli and go to the right, down Reeperbahn.
Top Ten Club - 136 Reeperbahn. This building has a large blue sign and is still the Top Ten Club. It is right next to the Reeperbahn stop of the S1 or S3 line. We found it interesting to walk up the strip from St. Pauli station however. The Beatles played there 1 April 1961 - 1 July 1961 and lived upstairs. This is also where they were living when George got deported. The upstairs attic area is just the kind of place you'd imagine they'd live. It was under renovation when we were there.
Continue following the Reeperbahn for another block or so, looking for Grosse Freiheit. There is a bar at the head of that street with the street name clearly marked, can't miss it. Turn right down the Grosse Freiheit and continue for a block or so.
Kaiserkeller - 38 Grosse Freiheit. This one is almost too famous to talk about. The Beatles played there 31Jul60 and 4Oct to 30Nov60. The club has gone back to calling itself Kaiserkeller and it is clearly marked. There is also a little plaque (in German) explaining the site.
Indra Club - 64 Grosse Freiheit. This is the first club in Hamburg in which the Beatles played. We got the wrong building during our trip, but a friend has since sent me the correct address and a photo.
Star Club - 39 Grosse Freiheit. Another very famous place. The Beatles played there 13Apr to 31May62, 1to 14Nov62 and 18 to 31Dec62. There is a big old church next door to the building complex, across the street from the Kaiserkeller. To find #39 you need to go through the archway to an off-the-street court. It is no longer the Star Club; this is not the original structure.
Now continue down Grosse Freiheit (away from Reeperbahn) for two blocks and turn left on to Paul-Roosen Strasse.
Bambi Kino - 33 Paul-Roosen Strasse. This little blue-gray house about a block up from the corner is where the Beatles lived when they first came over to Hamburg and were playing at the Indra. They "lived in squalor" there around 17Aug60. The building is unremarkable and we saw the current upstairs resident. There is a small faded silver plaque behind the ivy denoting the site.
That was basically all that we found in the Reeperbahn area. But just being there and seeing the buildings nearby, and walking on the cobbles, there was some connection. Many of the things to see and touch in that area were there when the Beatles were there, so this area is more than just the clubs they played at and the places they lived. I imagine that they were in many of the clubs along the strip and in many of the houses in the area.
The other Hamburg sites are a bit more scattered.
Ernst Merck Halle - This is where the Beatles played their final two concerts in Germany in 1966. At one of them there was a riot among the fans. Unfortunately this building was demolished many years ago. For those shows the Beatles stayed out of town at the Schloss Hotel, the castle at Tremsbuttel. This castle has changed hands and we were advised by the locals not to visit. They stayed there 26Jun66.
Near the Central Train Station (on the east side or south-east corner) there is another minor site.
Akustik Studio - 57 Kirchenalle. The Klockmann-House. On 15Oct60 the Fab Three, made their first recording as a group, with Lou Walters and Ringo Starr. They recorded "Summertime" at a record your own voice booth. I asked several of the shop owners in the building (in my terrible German) about this studio, but none had ever heard of it. The building now contains several bars, a bank and a Kodak shop. The actual recording took place on the sixth floor, but the picture shows the shop with the proper address.
Royal Festival Hall - near the Planten und Bloomen on Karl-Muck-Platz. The locals call this the Musikhalle. It is here that years ago, many jazz artists came to play. Afterwards they would go down to the City Park on the Elbe and play for free late into the night. The Beatles saw Ray Charles there once and at that time met Billy Preston.
The Heiligengeistfeld (Holy Spirit Square) or Hamburger Dom Platz, near St. Pauli Landungsbrucken, was a favorite hang-out. It is here that Astrid had her famous photo shoot. They also took photos at the nearby docks and the railway yard (Speicherstadt). Also, Jurgen Yollmer took photos at Hamburg Lake (Aussenalster). Near this harbor area is another hang-out, The British Sailors' Society (Britische Seemannsmission, 20 Johannisbollwerk Street). Here they could feel at home with the sailors (like Liverpool) and get a free meal. We decided that Hamburg was rough enough, we didn't have to purposefully seek out the Mission.
Stu stayed in Hamburg to study sculpture at "Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste", 2 Lerchenfeld (University of Fine Arts) which we did not find. Astrid, Klaus Voormann und Jurgen Vollmer attended the State High School of Art Instruction. The locals call this the School of Design, (Fachhochschule fur Gestaltung), "the famous, old one". It is found in St. Georg Hohenfelde to the east of Aussenalster, right on the Kuhmuhlent (Mundsburg Kanal). The street is Armgarstrasse 24 between Mundsburger Damm and Kuhmuhle. It is not easy to find on the map, but if you can get to the Alsterschwimmhaus (municipal swimming pool) then someone can direct you. The building itself has been remodeled such that the top floors are modern. To get the true character of the old building go around the east side to the back of the building.
There are other more minor sites, like the hospital in which Stu died (sorry no address) and the airport where Astrid met the Beatles when they came back to get Stu's body. The Fuhlsbuttel-Airport looks too new to be the same one, but I'm told it's original.
The rest of the Beatle-related sites are outside of Hamburg and I just didn't have time to find them or go to them.
Friedrich Ebert Halle - in Harburg, about 40 min by train from Hamburg. The Beatles recorded there with Tony Sheridan in 5/61. This is where they recorded "My Bonnie" which eventually led them to Brian Epstein. This was an infant's school at that time.Would have been cool to find, if it still exists (it doesn't).
Astrid's house. In the Hamburg suburb of Altona, 45a Eimsbutteler Strasse, in Eimsbuttel. Stu lived in the attic. Some say that a fall down the stairs there led to his death.
So there you have it, my little tour of Beatle-related sites in Hamburg. This is provided to you for the fun of it. I am not a Beatle historian, so if my stories about the places or my dates are a bit off, give me a break. If you have any additions to the list, I am all ears.
If you are going to Hamburg, don't expect to drink any water that doesn't have bubbles.
Go look at a wonderful site by, my friend, Hamburg resident, Andy Lisius - With the Beatles.
Learn more about Beatles Hamburg books, ebooks, and apps.